Sahara's pawsome wish

Animal-lover Sahara's deep sense of compassion saw her care for rescue cats and dogs.

Growing up

Like mother, like daughter

By the time Sahara could first walk and talk, her mum Tanya saw how greatly she connected with every kind of animal – but especially furry friends who needed a home.

Tanya openly admits that Sahara gets this trait from her.

“We’ve always had animals! If someone says they can’t keep an animal, I’ll take them in – mostly to try and find them a home but most of them stay,” laughs Tanya. “Sahara has begun bringing home abandoned animals too. I’ve had to stop us both because I have too many!”

In fact, at home they currently have 3 dogs, 5 cats, mice, chickens, and scorpions as pets. Tanya even had 26 tarantulas at one point to cure herself of arachnophobia – spoiler alert, it didn’t work!

Health Condition

The Miracle Child

Sahara’s love for animals grew even stronger after she acquired a brain injury two days before her 13th birthday, just before Christmas. The now 16-year-old has spent years recovering with the help of her animals, a feat that doctors never thought possible.

“She had an existing bowel condition and a tube and button to help flush, which blocked one night. When it unblocked too much fluid went through and it caused her to go into cardiac arrest, and all her organs shut down. She was in a coma for 13 days before she woke up – it was very scary.”

“They call her the miracle child. They told me she wouldn’t survive and that if she did, I would wish she hadn’t.”

They call her the miracle child. They told me she wouldn’t survive and that if she did, I would wish she hadn’t.

Tanya, Sahara's mum

The Sticky Beak

Tanya was told by the doctors that if Sahara did survive, she would be nonverbal and paralysed the rest of her life.

Spending three months in hospital, she continued to beat the odds with therapy to regain use of her legs, her speech and the ability to eat and swallow.

At that point, Tanya requested that Sahara be brought home to continue treatment – around the love and support of her animals. Despite being told Sahara would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life, three months later she had regained the movement in her legs.

“She came home in two casts, which wasn’t easy in wooden floors – she’d slide around on the wooden floors and bum scoot herself up the stairs!”

She’s very determined and very stubborn. That’s why she survived! She doesn’t like to miss out on anything, and by being paralysed and not talking she was missing out on things.

Tanya, Sahara's mum

Wish Journey

A wish to care for others

When asked what Sahara wished for – her deep sense of compassion and caring was more obvious than ever. She wanted to care for rescue animals, of course!

“She’s very compassionate, and is drawn to caring for other children, babies and of course animals. When she was in hospital, she would look after the other children around her who also couldn’t talk.

“This wish absolutely highlighted her compassion. She wants to help all the animals – sometimes too much!”

Puppy paradise

Sahara’s wish turned into a week-long urban adventure for her and Tanya. Flying from Perth to Melbourne, they took on the city traffic to venture to two pawsome animal shelters – The Lost Dogs’ Home and Lort Smith.

With three activity-filled days planned by the teams at Lost Dogs’ and Lort Smith, Sahara was never without a furry friend nearby!

In the lead up to the wish, both centres sent Sahara videos to introduce her to staff and get her excited for all the fun that was planned.

Sahara’s next few days included feeding fluffy felines in the adoption centre, sharing treats with very cute pooches and puppies, attending all important foster animal consults, dog-walking, and training sessions with the Behaviour Department, and of course providing enrichment to the cats.

Belle, Trixie and Simba

In fact, the highlight came when Sahara was shown the “enchanted forest” kitten room which had been magically decorated before her arrival with fairies, toadstools, fairy lights – and lots of catnip. Sahara spent an afternoon putting the finishing touches on the room, before the three kittens that were to live there were bought in for Sahara to name.

She thought they suited Belle, Trixie and Simba.

Wish Effect

A fearless future

It would take a lot for Sahara to love something as much as animals, but school comes close.

With hospitality as her favourite subject, Tanya and Sahara are also trying to get animal studies included in the curriculum – with the dream for Sahara of heading down that path.

“She’s taken away an even bigger love for animals, and a better idea of what direction she wants to head in. A wish like this gives a child something to look forward to, since we first got the wish approved – she’s never stopped talking about it!”

“From getting to the hotel, and even being in the car – she’s laughing at me when I’m not so happy with traffic or when I’m pressed up against the veranda because I’m scared of heights! She’s got no fear at all – she never lets anything stop her!”

Thank you for making this possible for Sahara, she’s been loving every moment of it!

Tanya Sahara's mum

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The Wish Journey

How a wish comes to life

Make-A-Wish volunteers visit each child to capture their greatest wish, getting to the heart of what kids truly want and why. This profound insight is part of what makes Make-A-Wish unique, giving children full creative control and helping to shape their entire Wish Journey.

Back at Make-A-Wish HQ, we partner with families, volunteers and medical teams to design the ultimate wish experience - and start rallying our partners and supporters to help make it happen.

In the lead up to the wish, we take each child on a journey designed to build excitement and provide a welcome distraction from medical treatment. Anticipation can be incredibly powerful, helping to calm, distract and inspire sick kids at a time they need it most.

When the moment finally arrives, children get to experience their greatest wish come true - it's everything they've imagined and more. Pinch yourself, and don't forget to take a breath and enjoy every precious moment!

Wish impact studies show that a child's wish lives on, long after the moment. A wish gives more than just hope – with an incredible and lasting effect on the lives of sick kids, their families and wider communities.